Public Broadcasting, Private Agendas.
The BBC runs a weekly technology news show called Click. Most weeks it covers the basic commercial software news and website discussions relating to gadgets or technology available at various shows and exhibitions. Occasionally they cover the topic of Open Source, Linux and the Free software community rarely do they bother to provide a good or balanced commentary. They usually manage to drop in comments about “amateur” , ” Spare time”, “Hippy” or “Overly technical” into the report.
This week Click reports on Open Source and it appears they are making a concerted effort to cover the details and provide balanced and non divisive commentary. Okay we have the usual Chris Long style report and this time around he wants to make a little joke about open ketchup bottles, “its open sauce, geddit ?” no Chris we dont, the Eighties called and they want their comedy back. There is still the usual “oooh look scary boot screen” commentary and a suggestion that OSS is for bearded hippies, again Mr Long your getting it wrong.
The report was concerned with the question “Can non techie types install Linux “.
Since most users have Windows preinstalled and if they have to reinstall and configure hardware and device drivers they are as likely to employ me or some other local techie to do the job its not a fair question. I would think Ubuntu and other Linux operating systems are making an incredible leap in the ease with which you can install the operating system and have all the applications and drivers available.
I can point to a few non technical users who have different experiences. Vicky , of RoseVibe fame has braved ahead and installed it for herself and the biggest problem we have had is getting her into a good local support community who dont expect her to open a terminal. Then theres Paul Shepard who we can class as a amateur techie who finds that the support community surrounding OSS is far superior to anything he has experienced before. Finally there is Jo Parker and Suzy Miller of Certain Shops who actually received a preinstalled Ubuntu environment and are running a business with it and in the three weeks since they started they have not come crashing to a halt because of the software. Thats three stories I can point to all non techie, non bearded hippies and they would mistake Open Source for ketchup.
Yes , yes okay some things are still not working out of the box , some Sound cards, some Webcams , some Printers and Modern PC games. Not for a lack of capability but for a lack of awareness by vendors and producers that there is a potential market with no cost of entry to gain licensing and development rights to. But I digress.
Click does go onto a different presenter who does appear to understand the values in open source with its responsiveness and the ease of support contact as he , Rob Freeman , discusses Open Office and how it meets the needs of wordprocessing, spreadsheets and presentation tools all without the need for bad puns or “ooooh scary techie” commentary, why is that I wonder ?
It is great news when any open source software makes it into mainstream news. It is even better news when the mainstream news begin to treat Open Source Software in a professional and unbiased fashion and we need this to occur more often. Please take time to go watch the show and comment on the their website about your own experiences and views.
I believe that Paul Mellors ( Voodoo ) is planning to attend the Lugradio live event this coming July and wants to bring a video camera to get plenty of short video comments from everyone. This is a great opportunity to show the BBC that Open Source Software is not about bearded hippies or scary wild eyed technical representatives but its about real people and real community that provides support to all its users indiscriminately and without talking down to them. in fact as I type this I am reminded of our community gallery and other photos.
So please show your support and encourage better reporting and more coverage of the OSS community
Thanks for reading.